United Kingdom

Online shopping tycoon who founded The Hut Group hands £100MILLION of shares to charity

The founder of The Hut Group has pledged to donate £100million of the online retailer's shares to charity and hand all his salary to good causes after the firm's profits soared by a third last year.

Executive chairman and chief executive Matthew Moulding, 49, will give the mammoth stake to the Moulding Foundation, set up by the entrepreneur and his family last year.

The move, which comes just seven months after The Hut Group owner THG's initial public offering (IPO), sees him become one of the UK's biggest philanthropists.

THG said it had already donated £300,000 to charities between last September's IPO and the end of 2020, instead of paying Mr Moulding and co-director John Gallemore their base salaries.

Executive chairman and chief executive Matthew Moulding (above), 49, will give the mammoth stake to the Moulding Foundation, set up by the entrepreneur and his family last year

THG (headquarters in Manchester pictured) confirmed the donation as it said revenues soared 41.5 per cent to £1.6billion in 2020 and underlying profit jumped 35 per cent to £151million

THG - which also owns MyProtein, Lookfantastic and ESPA - confirmed the donation as it said revenues soared 41.5 per cent to £1.6billion in 2020 and underlying profit jumped 35 per cent to £151million.

But statutory pre-tax losses widened to £534,639 from £45,158 in 2019 after it paid out for share option schemes as well as the costs of the IPO.

The technology platform for health and beauty brands said solid trading had continued into 2021, with sales up 58.2 per cent in the first quarter.

It confirmed it expects revenue growth of between 30 per cent and 35 per cent for 2021.

Mr Moulding (pictured centre), a major Conservative Party donor who created the online retailing company in 2004, received a massive shares fortune on the firm's flotation

Mr Moulding and his wife Jodie (both pictured above) own 319million shares - a 25 per cent stake worth £2.2billion before the donation

The UK's top 10 philanthropists

1. Lord Sainsbury (2020 wealth of £512m, £170.8m in donations)

2. Dame Janet de Botton (wealth of £200m, £65.1m in donations)

3. Sir Chris Hohn (wealth of £1300m, £348.6m in donations)

4. Jonathan Ruffer (wealth of £159m, £35.8m in donations)

5. Sir Brian Souter and Dame Ann  Gloag (wealth of £730m, £129.6m in donations)

6. Sir Paul Marshall (wealth of £630m, £106.8m in donations)

7. Alan Parker (wealth of £2823m, £229.7m in donations)

8. David and Heather Stevens (wealth of £236m, £18.4m in donations)

9. Elisabeth Murdoch (wealth of £1200m, £82.4m in donations)

10. John Stone (wealth of £176m, £11.5m in donations)

Source: The Sunday Times Giving List 2020

THG's charitable donation comes after controversy over Mr Moulding's position as landlord to the public company's premises.

The firm said the handout is equivalent to 100 per cent of the profit that his Moulding Capital property company could make over the next 100 years.

Mr Moulding - a major Conservative Party donor who created the online retailing company in 2004 - received a massive shares fortune on the firm's flotation, receiving at least £830million in stock after its shares hit targets in the IPO.

The target was set when the company was floated on the London Stock Exchange in September at 500p a share and a value of £5.4billion. In November last year, the price was 647.8p.

Floating means giving over a percentage of the company for purchase by the public in the form of shares.

It's the process by which a privately-owned business starts to become publicly owned.

The Hut's float was the largest-ever ecommerce IPO in Europe, according to the London Stock Exchange, and the largest tech IPO ever in London. 

The only other sums which would best Moulding's was the £1.2billion Topshop boss Philip Green awarded to himself in 2005 and the £1.1billion bonus Lakshmi Mittal - the steel magnate - received in 2004.

It was estimated last year that Mr Moulding would be paid a basic salary of £750,000 a year as part of the flotation. In 2019, he was paid a total of £4.7million, mostly through share awards.

Mr Moulding and his wife Jodie own 319million shares - a 25 per cent stake worth £2.2billion before the donation.

They will have around 305million shares or 24 per cent of the firm after the transfer.

The Moulding Foundation has recently pledged £5million to support the construction of a new campus at The Seashell Trust, a residential school for seriously disabled children based in the North West.

Matthew Moulding: The Burnley pub potwasher turned self-made shopping tycoon and millionaire

Matthew Moulding, 49, started online retailer The Hut Group (THG) company in 2004.

Now, his firm's revenues have soared 41.5 per cent to £1.6billion in 2020 with underlying profit jumping 35 per cent to £151million. 

It caps a remarkable transformation for Mr Moulding, who started working life as a potwasher at his local pub and describes his background as 'typical working class'.

He grew up in a 'two-up, two-down' in Colne, a market town north of Burnley. His father was a road worker who laid tarmac and his mother a homemaker.

Mr Moulding went to a state school and was expelled from college for bunking off to visit his brother in prison. He went on to study industrial economics at Nottingham University.

Matthew Moulding (above, in red shorts), 49, started online retailer The Hut Group (THG) company in 2004

Now, he has a massive fortune of at least £830million in stock, with the tycoon tightly controlling his vast empire through his iPhone, working long hours and drinking 20 shots of coffee a day - though he finds time to holiday with his wife and four children in the Maldives and Dubai.

Mr Moulding also seems determined to maintain his links to the north, rarely travelling for business and encouraging potential investors to visit him in Manchester.

On a typical day, he wakes up at 6am and checks his messages on his iPhone, before starting working at 7am.

He takes a mid-morning break to go to the gym - not missing a day of working out for several years.

Mr Moulding has two 30-minute meetings throughout the day and is fuelled by coffee before arriving home to his children.

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